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Is air travel on the rebound? TSA reports a week of passenger growth

April 28, 2020
2 min read
Is air travel on the rebound? TSA reports a week of passenger growth
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The dramatic falloff in U.S. airline passengers may have hit bottom, judging from a recent uptick in screening numbers from the Transportation Security Administration.

The agency had been screening more than 2 million travelers on most days earlier this year, but those numbers cratered as the coronvirus pandemic took a swift hold in the U.S.

The nadir may have come on April 13, when the agency screened just 87,534 passengers — down a whopping 96% percent from the 2.1 million screened less than a month earlier on March 8. Since traffic plummeted to that record low, the total number of screened passengers has generally been hovering between 90,000 and 105,000 daily travelers.

While there is still some fluctuation, the numbers have headed up during the past week, rising from 92,859 passengers on April 21 to nearly 120,000 on Monday. Those numbers are still only about 5% of what was being counted on the same day in 2019, but it has been trending higher.

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The total on Sunday — 128,875 — was the highest since April 3. Monday also marked the fifth-consecutive day that the TSA counted more than 100,000 travelers at its checkpoints, giving it a run of six-digit figures for the first time since the first week of April.

Whether the gradual increase represents the beginning of a recovery or just a temporary upward blip remains to be seen. But it comes as some states slowly begin to reopen following coronavirus-related restrictions on movement.

Read more: Travel may look different after the pandemic subsides.

Even so, the number of screenings remains tiny compared to what was once considered normal. On Monday, the TSA screened just 119,854 travelers, compared to more than 2.4 million travelers a year ago.

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With airlines already planning to maintain skeletal networks into the summer, it's unlikely U.S. airports will return to seven-figure passenger screening numbers any time soon. But it is possible that the bottom has been reached when it comes to the smallest number of passengers traversing through TSA checkpoints in the U.S.

Read more: What it's like to fly in the U.S. right now

Read more: Global Entry enrollment suspended until June 1.

Featured image by Getty Images
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Best for earning alternative rewards for travel purchases
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
3 / 5
Go to review

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10XEarn 10x points on eligible hotels and car rentals booked through the Credit One Bank travel partner site
5XEarn 5x points on eligible travel, dining, and gas
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  • Intro Offer
    Earn 10,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on eligible purchases in the first 90 days and redeem for a $100 statement credit, gift cards, or travel

    Earn 10,000 Bonus Points
  • Annual Fee

    $95
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    Fair/Good

Why We Chose It

The revamped Wander Card from Credit One Bank earns cardmembers up to 10 points per dollar spent on eligible travel purchases. With no foreign transaction fees, the card is also great for international travel. However, points earned from this card can only be used at a fixed value, so it may not be the best option for those striving to get maximum value from their rewards.

Pros

  • This card has no foreign transaction fees and earns up to 10 points per dollar on travel purchases through the Credit One Bank travel partner site.

Cons

  • While cardholders can earn a significant amount of points on travel purchases, there isn't any way to redeem points from the Wander Card for maximum value (beyond 1 cent per point).
  • Earn 10,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on eligible purchases in the first 90 days and redeem for a $100 statement credit, gift cards, or travel
  • Earn 10x points on eligible hotels and car rentals booked through the Credit One Bank travel site
  • Earn 5x points on eligible travel, dining, and gas
  • Earn 1x points on all other purchases
  • Redeem your reward points for statement credits, gift cards, merchandise, flights, hotels, and more
  • With $0 Fraud Liability, you won’t be responsible for unauthorized charges
  • Free Online Credit Score and Credit Report summary, terms apply
  • If you are a Covered Borrower under the Military Lending Act, you may get a different offer
  • See Rates & Fees